Cowboys Coen Hess is being tipped to make his Origin debut this season.
Cowboys Coen Hess is being tipped to make his Origin debut this season. MICHAEL CHAMBERS

Hess in the frame for Maroons jersey

THE absence of three Maroons greats will give others the chance to put their case forward for a Queensland State of Origin jersey, says coach Kevin Walters.

Season-ending knee injuries for both Greg Inglis and Matt Scott and the retirement of Corey Parker has opened the door for the next generation of Queensland stars, Walters said at the launch of this season's series in Sydney on Monday.

"There'll be some opportunities there for sure, particularly in the forwards, with no Corey and no Matt Scott," he said.

One of those who could step up is Cowboys forward Coen Hess, with North Queensland teammate Ethan Lowe also catching Walters' eye.

Hess impressed with two tries in the Cowboys' win over Gold Coast last weekend.

"He was in our emerging squad early this year and he's progressing very quickly," Walters said.

"We'll just see how he goes in the next six-to-eight weeks before we've actually got to select the side.

"But he's doing everything right at the moment and really opening the eyes up of a lot of people.

"They've both been in good touch for them. Those two, their bodies are built for Origin and what Origin provides."

Walters appears likely to recall Billy Slater at fullback for the series opener at Suncorp Stadium on May 31 with Darius Boyd shifting to the wing.

Dane Gagai is expected to slot into Inglis' centre spot.

"I think (Slater is) more suited at fullback and Darius on the wing. But you never say never to things and options," Walters said.

"I guess his body will tell us that the next month of NRL. They've had some tough games, the Storm. It's a really tough competition again this year, the NRL.

"So we'll see how he goes in four-to-six weeks and see how the body's holding up and how his mindset is. He'll know whether he's ready for Origin or not."

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